60 / The Constant Gardener

For F*ture's Sake!

Welcome to FFS! A half-assed attempt to live sanely on planet earth.


Reading time: 3 minutes

So, here’s the thing. As you know, up until now, For F*ture’s Sake! has been my pathetic attempt to save civilisation from itself. With hindsight, I think I may have been a tad ambitious!

I hate to say it, but maybe Jordan Peterson is right when he scolds marauding males for trying to save the world before knowing how to clean their own bedroom (or in my case, garden; and have you seen the state of it?).

So, for 2021 and beyond, I’m taking his tough love to heart. I’m pruning this newsletter. From henceforth, my writing will apply the same values and philosophy of FFS!, but it will be channeled through a much smaller plot of land than the entire earth and every person on it.

And that plot is, of course, my garden.

*cue glut of unsubscribers*

You see, from this year onwards, I’m going to fulfill a long-held intention — to convert my family's city garden into a kitchen garden. I’m thinking partly about food security, partly about helping our beleaguered ecosystem, but I’m also thinking about having fun — and lots of it.

I want to have the craic (Irish word for fun) with my wife and kids, while exposing them, and myself, to invaluable life skills, and a deeper appreciation of nature. And I’d like to share it with you too.

In addition to the fruit and veggies, I'll tend to bees, learn more about food preservation, and — if only I could persuade my wife — keep a few chickens too (for eggs; although apparently they make fine pets!). 

I want my family to be as self-sufficient as possible. I want to encourage and sustain local wildlife, by planting wild flowers and letting weeds be.

But there are two problems:

  1. My wife is apprehensive.

    Last year we employed a landscape architect to design our garden (currently a lumpy lawn with a shed, and a few cornered veggies). He imagined a beautiful solution — clean lines, immaculate lawn; meandering limestone path. Then I developed grand notions of tearing up the yard, but without much by way of a plan.  Which leads me to the other problem:

  2. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing.

    Beyond growing a few spuds, I’ve no experience of smallholding. I don’t compost and I hate mowing the lawn. Even house plants won't live for me.  Some of them don't even wait to die; they commit suicide.

But I reckon I can learn on the job. I’ve got a couple of goods books, I’m starting a beekeeping course in February, and some of my extended family are green-fingered. But best of all, I’ve got a reasonable bit of space in which to practice.

And I’ve made a solid start already:
I now know rule #1 of vegetable growing: crop rotation is key!

Bite-sized gardening lesson:
Soil needs a break from growing the same crop every year. By rotating crops between beds, you prevent disease.

I plan to have 5 plots; and to help me remember what goes where, I created an acronym. 

B for brassicas (broccoli and cauliflower)
G for garlic (onions and scallions)
L for legumes (runner beans and peas)
P for potatoes (roosters and queens)
R for roots (carrots and beetroot)

And if it all goes pear-shaped? The acronym will still make sense:

Bad
Gardener
Leaves
Partner
Reeling

Seriously though, nature should not be this separate thing we visit, but are instead surrounded by and part of everyday. 

Regenerating available space, however small, isn't about creating pristine wilderness devoid of humans; or manicured gardens lacking wildlife. It's about meeting nature half way — rewilding ourselves while cultivating the environment to meet our needs, and theirs.

Amongst the fruit and veg, or whatever you’ve got growing on your balcony, yard or country estate; every bird, every bird feeder, every bit of wild, every weed counts. It’s a constant and vital battle; but also (I hope) a lot of fun.


Until next week, stay safe - Scott